A Vision Guide to ‘Geocaching’

A Vision Guide to…


The word geocaching might not be a common one in the technological lexicon, but it has a growing following. It is a outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices such as smartphones to locate caches storing swappable items.

We start our geocaching expedition laid spread-eagle on the grass outside Grimston House. Sweat glistens from our brows as the thermometer touches 16 degrees, like two marine Iguana’s basking in the glorious sun. We could have no idea what lay before us as we dived straight in to this mysterious cult of hunter-gatherers.

The app was initially fairly simple to use, we saw the closest item and wandered in its general direction before looking at the more specific clues. One of the clues suggested that the box may be at the top of some sort of hill. Spotting a small nodule we did what all intrepid explorers would and began the ascent.

Suddenly, YOU’RE GETTING CLOSE, flashes on the phone, adrenalin courses through our veins and the knees begin to pump and drive us towards the top of this previously unassailable knoll. We reach the peak of the hill and use the compass feature of the app to disjointedly steer us in the right direction. Another clever clue steers us towards a small stone wall, a brick is dislodged. We know right there and then that it was all worth it, we had found the box!

A non-specific hill
A non-specific hill

We set up camp on the summit, downing our Lucozades as well as our prior concerns as to the value of this feature. Our first thought is the box is a bit dirty but it does not matter; we are Indiana Jones and Short Round and we’re about to open the Ark of the Covenant. Hold onto your potatoes Doctor Jones!

Adrenalin turns to euphoria as we analyse every ounce of thought that went into these hallowed horcrux-like trinkets. My goodness what a collection we had stumbled upon. Within the box lay a plastic purple-pearl necklace, a poker chip, a sticker of a Celtic warrior, a badge from California and a small fake £20 note!! What did they all mean? Where did they come from?

We could only speculate, so we did. We then had to leave our trinket in the box. We had accumulated a few photos of unknwon origin and considered leaving bamboozling messages on the back but in the end we lumped for a mini-cassette, the contents we had no idea.

At this point we were so emotionally invested in the whole idea that we assumed thousands of years on someone would find a way to access the music on it; a fascinating piece of evidence for those writing a dissertation on the cassette-playing geocacher of the 2010’s. Before we replaced the lid we opened the plastic sealed baggy to reveal a list of names and dates that continued to unfurl.

I thought to myself this is as close as I will ever get to understanding how the Bedouin shepherds felt when they first discovered the dead sea scrolls. We scribbled our names underneath our noble predecessors, only to discover that in fact someone else had been there less than a week earlier!

We realised that fellow geocachers must walk amongst us every single day; we invented a mason-like handshake then continued with the task at hand. A full 10 metres above sea-level we had marked our names in the geocaching annals, immortalised by our signatures and common-love for seeking out other people’s useless tat.

We encountered several obstacles on the way to our next box. An untied shoe lace almost lead to a fracas with an overzealous goose. We then encountered a troupe of marathon runners having a break. We stopped for a chat, and soon realised that proudly announcing we were geocaching didn’t make us feel as big as we initially thought it might.

We followed the clues to the next box that lead us to a gated off area of Derwent’s quiet zone. However, like true sleuths we found a side door left open and pressed on. Low and behold we stumbled upon a Jägermeister lanyard in the multi-faith prayer room. Result! We felt sure we had reached the correct spot, with all the clues pointing us to one specific tree, and one specific sign.

We did find a box alas on opening we found it to be rat poison. We assumed that this box in a bustling area had potentially been moved or it was simply too difficult to find. Nearby students began to get more curious as to what we were doing foraging in the bushes, whereas some wandered past nonchalantly, fellow geocachers we assumed. Camera around the neck, notepad under the arm, adventure in the heart, and steely determination behind the eyes we decided to plough on.

A York Vision journalist hard at work
A York Vision journalist hard at work

Our resolve was well and truly tested for this next box. Particularly as low battery meant we were forced to lower the brightness on the phone. The app however continued to work very well, with interesting cryptic clues accompanied with information about the specific area and accurate directions. We ventured off road into a field next to campus, which after at least one rather traumatic nettle sting we found an incredibly small magnetised metal canister hidden under a sign.

We read in the comments for this find on the app that a certain ‘wadbylouise’ had miraculously stumbled upon it on the way home from a night-out, marking it with their lipstick. This particular example I believe shows what geocaching is all about. It can be done at any time, by anyone for whatever reason. We spent an afternoon in the sun, and instead of mooching around aimlessly we mooched with a purpose, and discovered some certainly interesting if not exceptional objects.

It is understandable how people get so involved with it, especially those who enjoy solving problems and walking, which let’s be honest is most of us. We found a Jägermeister lanyard and potentially ourselves… However embellishments aside, if you fancy a jolly in the sun, with the incentive of discovering something that could be of interest to you then download the app and join the community.